The four Cs

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Margret Jones
  • 21st Medical Operations Squadron commander
Units are made up of hundreds of thousands of interpersonal interactions daily. When new members arrive to our unit we discuss four important Cs: competency, compassion, courage and communication. These are important to any unit and to any interpersonal interaction.

Competency in what you do is essential. Your level of competency grows with education and experience. In anything you do, competency is important. It is essential to learn your job and mission to the best of your ability. Continue to grow in everything you do, to ask questions, to read, to challenge yourself in your endeavors. In the military, each time we enter a new squadron our competency is re-evaluated and trust from our peers, staff and senior leaders must be re-earned. Sometimes this can be frustrating, however, it challenges us as a person to continuously improve. Always learn something new each day and take each new assignment as a new adventure.

Compassion is important in all aspects of human encounters. Some think compassion is something you do for others; however, it is toward yourself as well. We are often our own worst critics. Once we are compassionate toward ourselves we can show compassion to others. Compassion leads to kindness and mercy. In the work area we should be conscious of our actions, reactions and strive for compassion in our response. We all make mistakes. How we respond during good times is easy; how we respond during difficult times shows our true character and continues to mold us into who we want to be. Some equate compassion to weakness; I do not believe this to be true. It can be difficult to treat others with compassion, especially during times of failure that affect the mission or create significant hardship for the team. Compassion does not necessarily mean there will not be consequences for actions, it just means you treat the member with respect and understanding throughout the interaction.

Courage displayed in the important decisions of our lives is imperative to character and leadership development. Sometimes the right path is not the easy path. Steven Covey speaks about courage in the moment of truth; the split-second decisions we make every day. These include small decisions: "Am I going to get up and go the gym?" to very difficult decisions: "Am I going to take the keys away from my friend who has been drinking too much, even though they could be very mad and insist that it's OK?" Maybe it's being a good wingman and not leaving a friend at the bar with someone they just met, or speaking up when the rumor mill is rampant around us.

All these could potentially put us in very uncomfortable positions and possibly place us in the middle of ridicule. However, not acting could have severe consequences for another. Courage is not easy, but it is how we can break the chain of a potentially significant event.

Communication: everything revolves around communication. In any organization, communication is vital. Communication comes in many forms. Written, verbal and non-verbal are probably the most common. It is important to ensure awareness of what you are communicating both verbally and non-verbally. Typically your non-verbal is stronger than your verbal. You have heard the saying "do what I say and not what I do." Often we may be saying this and not even realizing it. Be careful too on "how" you speak versus "what" you speak. It is often said, "It is not what you are saying but how you are saying it" that determines the interaction with others. Finally it is our responsibility to clarify something if we are not sure what is meant. If we chose to leave a situation feeling uncomfortable in an interaction we could degrade the relationship or unit. If we are unsure of what was being said or why, we should speak up and ask for clarification.

Competency, compassion, courage and communication are just a few ideas of how we better our day-to-day interactions with others. Practice makes perfect and we have many opportunities to practice each and every day.